I am sitting in Padova, Italy right now, in our 4th week of ‘staying at home’ due to the Corona Virus. Many of you will still be adjusting to life under Social Distancing, and one thing we are all feeling is uncertainty and moods going up and down. Over the next couple of editions, I am pulling together some of my favourite resources that help with keeping positive and fit through times of crisis.
It is often said that happy mum = happy family, and this is true at any time. It is always important to look after your emotional wellbeing. During this pandemic, one of the best things we can do for ourselves and our families is to stay healthy and positive: a positive outlook helps boost your immune system and being physically fit and healthy also helps to cope with what life throws at you (including sleep deprivation and the repetitive muscle strains that often accompany life with a newborn).
Personally, my first source of help for mood boosting is colour! I have spent years working with colour as an interior designer and have a very acute sense of how it affects mood through physical spaces, I am also keenly aware of its effect through how we dress.
Colour has a huge impact on how we feel. If you are feeling a bit sluggish, look around you at the colours of your space, and what you are wearing. Are you surrounded mainly by monochromes (white/grey/black/beige)? Bringing in some colour could really help perk up your mood.
Effects of Colours on Mood
Soft pinks have a very calming effect. You may have noticed that some hospital corridors and good customer service areas use pink, for this very reason! If you are feeling anxious or overwhelmed, wrapping yourself in a soft pink throw with a cup of herbal tea might be just what you need to help you feel more zen.
If you are breastfeeding, feeling calm and relaxed is a huge help for both you and your baby, and if you make that tea a breastfeeding-friendly blend, for example one that includes Fennel, known for its milk-boosting properties, even better*.
Green, the colour of grass and leaves, conveys a sense of calm and assurance. With its links to nature, green promotes a sense of healing, calm and tranquillity. Since we are advised to stay indoors as much as possible, you may be missing and craving the connection with nature that you get from a walk in the park (especially if, like me, you live in an apartment in the centre of the city). Wear a green scarf, bring some healthy pot plants into your home, even changing your phone wallpaper to pictures of trees and greenery can help.
Pastel blues are also calming and soothing, helping to cool you down and focus when feeling flustered. A shirt in bone china blue, or a summer sky-blue dress (layered over leggings and worn with a jacket) could help you feel more clear-headed.
Focus for Action
Blue is associated with clarity of thinking, focus, logic. If you want to feel more in control and organise your thoughts, try putting on a crisp white t-shirt and a bright blue cardigan with your favourite jeans. While figuring out your priorities for the day or the week ahead, wearing any of the versatile shades of blue, from cornflower blue to cerulean to classic blue, will help nudge your mind to stay on task.
Purple is a colour of power and creativity, associated with royalty and luxury. Its combination of the stability of blue and the passion of red makes it an uplifting colour that helps with focused but creative thinking. The intensity of this colour has very different effects: a soft lilac, linked with femininity, looks fresh and uplifting when teamed with white. A deep ultraviolet on the other hand, provides an intense burst and might be best enjoyed in a colourful scarf or via some fresh flowers on your desk.
Staying at home could mean you are seeking more happy, creative stimulus. For this, orange is a great starting point. It has a strong link to boosting creative energy and creative thinking. Before you think ‘whoah that is way too intense for me’ bear in mind that there is a beautiful spectrum of orangey tones. A rich rusty shade pairs well with navy blue for sophisticated style. Yellowy-orange tones look gorgeous in patterns for a summery feel. A pinky orange like Pantone’s ‘living coral’ is an uplifting colour that works really well with the more luminous skin you get during pregnancy. There is definitely an orange for everyone, and this colour family is a wonderful mood booster.
For energy boosts, brighter colours are perfect. Hot pinks, lime greens, bright aqua blues are more energising and can be a great ‘pick me up’ for your mood. Hot pink always makes me want to dance, for some reason! This gorgeous dress is from Aka+Pip's Special Occasions collection
Yellow is an energising, stimulating colour, mimicking the effects of sunlight. It can be a tricky one to wear – for example, if teamed with black that can be read as signalling ‘danger’! Because it is a highly saturated colour which reflects a lot of light, it can be very tiring, over-stimulating and drains you of energy after a while. Opt for more lemon or pastel shades if you want to wear this colour extensively. In general, highly stimulating colours should be used as just that – a stimulus, a pop, a burst, for example through accessories or an accent part of your outfit.
The family of Reds are full of power and energy, but tend to raise blood pressure and stress levels, so are best used with a light touch in times of stress. Like spices, Reds are perfect when used as accents to add a bit of flavour, without overwhelming you. Wearing a bit of red helps you feel confident and in control, even if its just some red lippy, or on your nails!
If you are interested in some more visual ideas on wearing colour, then Professional Colour and Style consultant Anita Feron Clarke provides a rich source of inspiration on how to wear colour through her Instagram feed @feronclarkstyle (and offers consultations on how to find the colours that work for you) – take a look for some great tips every day.
* Breastfeeding Support note: it is generally recommended to stay away from herbal teas such as Sage (unless you are weaning or have an oversupply problem) that are known to decrease milk supply – for further info take a look at the following links: https://kellymom.com/bf/got-milk/herbs_to_avoid/ or for boosting supply https://www.lllc.ca/thursdays-tip-what-galactogogue-why-might-breastfeeding-mother-use-one.